Past and present PBA Most Valuable Player winners June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel are among those being eyed to lead a bumper crop of talented players for the coming fifth window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers, where the Filipinos play Jordan and Saudi Arabia, both in away games.
Fajardo is a six-time MVP, who had represented Gilas Pilipinas as early as the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship when the Philippines qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years, but the 6-foot-10 center had played in the biggest basketball event twice, the latest was the 2019 edition in China.
Thompson, the reigning PBA MVP, on the other hand, was a member of the gold medal-winning Gilas team coached by Tim Cone in the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, but the Gin Kings star made his way back to the program when he played in the last window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers.
Also being planned to be included in the coming window this November is two-time PBA scoring champion and World Cup veteran CJ Perez.
Perez had just won his first ever PBA championship with the Beermen and his scoring prowess will be much-needed by the Philippine squad when the team plays in front of our countrymen. The 6-foot-2 former Lyceum stalwart was also a member of the 2019 national 3 x 3 team that also won the gold medal in the biennial meet cage games.
Thompson’s Ginebra teammates – 6-foot-9 athletic forward Japeth Aguilar and dead shot Arvin Tolentino – are also being eyed to be included as well as TNT stars Roger Pogoy and Poy Erram.
Aguilar has been a consistent fixture in the national team program and as early as 2008 when Smart-Gilas was formed, he was already included in the squad then coached by Rajko Toroman.
Prior to becoming a collegiate star and eventually becoming one of the promising cagers in the PBA, Tolentino used to play for the national youth team in Asian Championships.
Pogoy and Erram had also represented the national team several times before.
These PBA players are being planned to be included after Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes reached an agreement with management of San Miguel Beer, Ginebra and TNT on the availability of these players for the coming FIBA window.
They will be joined by available players from the Japan B. League and several other players from the UAAP and the national training pool.
The SBP is set to announce the other members of the pool once their availability is confirmed.